The Global Role of the US and Implications for the PRC: A Dialogue Between the New Generation of International Relations' Analysts in the PRC and the US

Emerging From Conflict Conference
July 21-23, 2000
Seattle, Washington

Conference Description

Embarking upon a new century and perhaps entering an international relations era as yet unnamed (The post post-Cold War era? The era of globalization? The post-Seattle protests era?), the United States and the People's Republic of China are eyeing each other somewhat uneasily across the Pacific, each unsure of the other's ultimate regional and global aspirations and the implications for national security. In the United States, the international relations community has been involved in a decade-long self-examination and restructuring necessitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. A new generation of analysts, trained in the post-Cold War era, is coming of age and moving quickly to utilize the new public tools of information and information-sharing which have grown up with the development of Web and satellite technologies. At the same time, the United States has reacted to a decade of peace with a renewed push for missile defense and military modernization. This trend, combined with concerns raised by many world leaders that the United States has tended to rely on unilateral solutions to international disputes, has led to growing fears of a resurgent and interventionist United States.

In the People's Republic of China, a similar process of revamping the country's international relations community started a decade earlier, spurred by China's opening to the outside world and its growing economic and political power. A new generation of analysts trained in the Deng era and after now approaches global issues with the experiences and expectations of an emergent great power. Nonetheless, hopes for a peaceful and prosperous future are tempered with worries about the challenges posed from inside (development needs, ethnic issues, unequal growth) and outside (regional security, Korean peninsula, US-Japan relations, the role of the international community in the Taiwan issue). China, like the United States, has reacted to a long period of peace with a renewed push for an enhanced military and defense capability. And where the world community once publicly praised every achievement in China's opening policy, it is now more likely to complain about the growing danger that a powerful and ambitious China poses in the Asia-Pacific.

In China, international relations specialists frequently question how they can better anticipate and predict US actions in a range of areas and on a variety of issues, with some calling for a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the US global strategy for the next few decades. In the United States, the debate over the Clinton legacy and, from that, the direction a new administration should go is progressing in tandem with the overall policy reassessments that accompany a presidential election year.

This conference will bring together a mixed group of younger-generation international relations specialists from the PRC and the United States to discuss some of the same issues that will be raised in the election discourse; that is, what will be the role of the United States in the world to come? And of specific interest to colleagues in China and the Asian-Pacific region, what will be the implications of this role on US-PRC relations? Discussion for each session will begin with two presentations on the topic by US presenters (short papers only, 5 to 7 pages in length) with a response to each from a PRC discussant. The Stanley Foundation will publish papers after the meeting.